It’s easy to get caught in a trap of thinking that being customer-centric primarily lies on your Customer teams.
However, while different in their day-to-day activities, these two teams live in the middle of your front-line Customer teams and the people building your product.
- Strategies for increasing organic communication and planning between Product and Marketing.
- How to build empathy and understanding of potential and current customer challenges.
- How to drive consistent alignment on the product you’re delivering and how you’re delivering it.
[Transcript] You’re Not As Customer-Centric As You Think
Really excited to kick off the Product track. We are gonna have some amazing speakers today. I’ve already seen all the slides. Super interesting, so let’s get started right away!
Very happy to introduce you to Genny Orser, VP of Marketing at Mappedin.
Okay, perfect! Stop me, Massimo, if there are any glitches along the way. Happy to be here and excited to chat with everyone today and excited to learn from everyone else’s hot takes as well.
My name is Genny Orser. As Massimo said, I’m the VP of Marketing at Mappedin, and today, I want to talk about why you’re not as customer-centric as you think.
Like I said, VP of marketing. The unique part about my role at Mappedin is that I oversee both the marketing function as well as the product management function.
A relatively unique setup for a VP of marketing, but it certainly pertains to the hot take that I have and some of the things and points that I want to hit on today.
Mappedin is an indoor mapping software company. We are a B2B company mainly selling to enterprises, and we are currently using sales-led growth models.
These are all important details to keep in mind as I talk through my hot take and some of the unique setups that we have. We’re also relatively small. We’re just shy of 100 people. We’ll be well over 100 people this year.
A really quick, interesting fact about me is that I’ve been a competitive horseback rider my whole life. I have a lot less time for that today, but I still try to find the time to fulfill that passion and hobby where I can.
So let’s dive right in!
So my take today really comes from this realization that it’s easy to get caught in a trap of thinking that being customer-centric primarily lies on your traditional customer teams: customer success, support, and your sales team. These teams are talking to customers on a day-to-day basis.
I’ve really come to realize in my current role that with product and marketing, having a front-row seat to why I think that there are other teams within your organization that can naturally be more customer-centric, and certainly should be.
So, of course, when I look at both the product and marketing functions at Mappedin and how they work together, both of these teams are living in the middle of your front-line traditional customer team.
So marketing teams work so closely with sales teams on a day-to-day basis, and your product groups work really closely with your customer teams to really make sure that you’re providing value to the customer through the product that you want.
Both of these teams have more shared goals than we sometimes realize or give them credit for.
You need to have a great understanding of your market–arguably a better understanding of the market than anyone else in your organization. A good understanding of your customers, which we’ll dive into more, and of course, the ability of your product itself.
My take on this is that companies, especially those that are around our size, let’s call it around the 100 mark, can naturally be more customer-centric by having product and marketing working within one team or, as I like to call it, under one virtual roof.
To dig into that a little bit more, these teams, together, really cover the needs of your entire customer lifecycle. Within Mappedin, our marketing team is constantly seeing day-to-day leads that are being driven through our Marketing group.
We have a really healthy inbound marketing pipeline at Mappedin. Our team is living and breathing that every day. They see what those new leads are asking for and what problems they’re trying to solve.
Your product team is constantly seeing the needs of your current customers and how those needs evolve and change over time to evolve your product and your roadmap.
The real learning for me has been sitting within one roof and on one team has encouraged the most heightened organic communication that could exist between these two groups–your product and your marketing groups.
This is the point that I wanted to dig into a little bit further.
So many organizations, especially ones that get to a certain size, have a product marketing function. I think it’s a really important function. It’s something that we now have at Mappedin, but we didn’t until pretty recently.
Without that function, replacing that organic communication with traditional documentation–so Product puts together positioning documentation and product handoff documentation that goes to your marketing team–well, that’s great–I think that’s a practice we should still do; it’s something that we do today.
It’s still going to filter out some of the true day-to-day that’s actually happening on the product side and vice versa on the marketing side.
So organic communication is really hard to replace with pretty much anything else and certainly hard to replace with documentation.
Although I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on creative techniques and ways that people have helped solve this problem.
Ultimately this has just led to stronger alignment on the product that you’re delivering and how it’s actually serving your customer base.
So really, in practice, this all amounts to a marketing strategy and product roadmap that ideally better resonates with your future and your current customers.
Really making sure that you’re covering all bases there and that your product and your marketing teams are starting to build up better intuition about what is happening day to day with your current customers.
And your product team being able to build a better intuition about those future customers, what they look like, what their needs are, and how they differ from your current customer base today.
Ultimately, that’s led us to be able to derive a clear value prop that’s backed by our current customers.
So value props and benefits in marketing. It’s amazing how you can put something together and think it makes so much sense, but then when you actually see how the customer is using your product and what their feedback is, and where they’re truly gaining value can evolve over time.
So again, having these two teams work so closely together has allowed us to adapt that value prop and make sure that we’re communicating as clearly as we possibly can on an ongoing basis. Of course, ultimately being able to write better content as part of that.
On the product side, being able to build roadmaps that are so much more holistic in nature and not getting sucked into that trap of building a roadmap that’s solely focused on your current customers, and there’s good reason why that happens because your current customers are paying you.
You want to make sure that they’re happy, and you want to make sure they’re getting value out of your product, but your roadmap has to also include those things that are going to be important for the next phase of your customer base that is going to allow your business to grow and scale.
So make sure that you have balance across the two. I think that happens more naturally. I’ve seen it happen more naturally by having those two groups working together day in and day out, sitting on daily stand-ups together.
It’s amazing, the dialogue that can happen between those two teams and the benefits that can come out of that.
My key takeaway is just bringing product and marketing teams together. Maybe a little bit unique; I know it’s not the most traditional setup. It can really benefit how customer-centric your business is as a whole.
Before I hand it back off for Q&A and commentary, it’s also worth mentioning that this isn’t the only setup that works for Product.
It’s natural for product teams to report to engineering, and there’s so much benefit for why an organization would do that and why we might do that at some point.
I think some of these key takeaways that I’ve learned by having product and marketing together are something that I’d love to continue digging in on, regardless of what the setup looks like.
So, I’ll pause there. I’m going to stop sharing.
Hot Takes Live
Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.
These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).
Thank you so much! You have to admit it’s a pain point that I felt multiple times at multiple companies.
If you have any questions, please write them in the chat. I already have a question for you, Genny.
I feel that in the current remote-first world that we are living post-Covid, communication is becoming more and more challenging. Let’s not talk about the silos within the company but even within the same team.
Very often, there are communication gaps inside, and I’m curious, in practice, how do you realize having both teams living under the same roof, the physical proximity of just getting them in stand up together? Same reporting structure or a different reporting structure? Really curious…
Yeah, it’s a great question. So we’re a remote by default company like many software companies today. There are two key things that have really helped us.
One is all of our teams do 15-minute daily stand-ups. I don’t think this is unique. Lots of groups do this, but to me, that stand-up is incredible because product and marketing get to state raw facts about what’s going on day to day, and it might be relevant to you as a team member, it might not.
However, even just subconsciously, hearing that information is what creates better intuition. It’s what allows people to have good intuition. I like to think the intuition that I have about our business, our product, our market, comes from the fact that I hear so much across our organization. So the daily stand-ups have been key.
The other one is that we are heavy users of Slack, and we really promote sitting in huddles all day.
I don’t know if this is something that lots of other people are doing; I assume it is, but we sit and open huddle channels all day long.
So product and marketing will sit in team huddles and are able to collaborate, and again, just hear the snippets of what’s happening versus “Here’s this really nice, built-out product positioning document. We’ve got this new feature going to market, we need to build material for it,” and that’s great.
Still, it doesn’t give you the true sense of what actually happens day to day. So huddles are an awesome way to do that.
I’ve seen companies where marketing, product, and even the UI, which was a different function for them all doing customer research at the same time.
And some customers were like, “Why do I have to do a customer interview? I did it yesterday with you…” and then you come together after two months and fight because they got to different conclusions, which was quite crazy!
Yeah, for sure! At least on our team, the product and marketing functions are both, I would say, highly social functions. So sit me down in front of a document to read how a customer interview went; I’m not going to get much value out of that.
I’d rather hear someone tell me how it went and give me some of the tidbits that they wouldn’t necessarily write in a document.
Yes, with documentation, I think it’s very good backward. So, if you don’t remember why you took that decision or if you want to look at something that happened in the past, it’s great, but for real-time thinking for different teams–not effective at all.
Awesome, we have Michael commenting that he totally agrees with what you said! So Genny, thank you so much for joining Hot Takes Live!